'Maxim' Magazine Won't Be Forced on the Block

Entrepreneur: Either Sell It to Me, or It Will Be Gone by March

By Published on .

NEW YORK (AdAge.com) -- Maxim magazine is taking issue with a media entrepreneur who says letting him buy the title for $40 million is the only way to keep it in business past March.

Andrew Fox, CEO of Track Entertainment, told the New York Post that he's been asking Cerberus Capital Partners to sell him Alpha Media, Maxim's owner, since Cerberus and other lenders took over Alpha this summer. "Either you sell it to me, or by March it will be gone," Mr. Fox said he told Cerberus.

"They keep saying they are interested but they keep saying they need a few more months," Mr. Fox told the Post. "I hope the new interim CEO [at Alpha Media], Paul Miller, will meet with me this week."

The Maxim crew was somehow less than charmed by the trash-talking overture.

Mr. Miller referred inquiries to a Maxim spokeswoman, who called the idea that Maxim will shut down by March "completely without merit."

Maxim is profitable and has posted ad-page gains in its first two issues of 2010, said group publisher Ben Madden. "We feel really good," he said. "There will be no meetings."

Maxim shook up the men's magazine category in 1997, when Felix Dennis imported his "lad mag" creation from England, but ad pages peaked in 2002, then fell every year since then, except for a tiny rise in 2007. Its ad pages fell 25% this year from 2008, according to the Media Industry Newsletter; monthlies as a whole saw ad pages drop 21%.

Maxim's average paid circulation held steady at 2.5 million in the first half, the most recent six-month period for which figures are available, as a 4% increase in subscriptions made up for an 18% plunge in newsstand sales, according to the Audit Bureau of Circulations.

Mr. Dennis sold Maxim, Blender and Stuff magazines to investors led by Quadrangle Capital Partners for about $250 million in August 2007. The new owners named the group Alpha Media, immediately closed Stuff, eventually closed Blender and struggled to make debt payments as the recession voided the assumptions underpinning its loans. Lenders including Cerberus officially assumed ownership in July.

Mr. Miller was named interim CEO in October following the September exit by CEO Stephen Duggan. Mr. Miller does not have a publishing background, but was formerly chairman at Freedom Group, a firearms conglomerate owned by Cerberus.

A Cerberus spokesman declined to comment on Mr. Fox's effort to buy Maxim. An executive familiar with Cerberus, however, said no meetings with Mr. Fox are planned.

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